Coloradans help plan national healing retreat for survivors of mass shootings

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DENVER -- Survivors of the Aurora theater and Columbine massacres are coming together to support a national healing retreat for survivors of mass shootings.

The Onsite Foundation just started taking applications for the “Triumph Over Tragedy” retreat outside of Nashville, Tennessee March 12-18.

The retreat was inspired by Austin Eubanks, a former Columbine survivor who died last year. Eubanks had a dream of a healing refuge where survivors could work through their trauma and heal as a community.

“Austin Eubanks’ passion for encouraging our culture to face trauma and resolve emotional pain inspired all who loved him to bring his vision to life and create this first-of-its-kind program for survivors. Having seen firsthand the long-term effects of unresolved trauma from mass shootings in both my personal and professional life, I am honored to be a part of the team bringing Austin’s vision, and this healing program to life,” said Laura Hutfless, an Onsite Foundation board member.

Triumph Over Tragedy was funded in part by the Austin Eubanks Memorial Fund.

The Onsite Foundation says it will provide tools, support, trauma-informed therapies and access to top-of-the-line trauma therapists and clinicians. Thanks to generous donors, all of that will be free. Participants just need to get to Nashville.

“I really truly believe that it is going to have an impact on so many survivors,” said Crystal Woodman Miller, a Columbine survivor who is now the chairperson of the Survivor Advisory Council with The Onsite Foundation.

“Having the opportunity to be with survivors from all over the nation, representing a variety of different tragedies, I think it will offer great strength and hope,” Woodman Miller said.

While there will be group experiences, the program will be individualized.

“Far too many people don't have the means or the resources or even the ability to find the right person to get the help that they need for emotional wellness for  living and thriving after trauma,” Woodman Miller said.

Marcus Weaver, a survivor of the Aurora theater shooting, is also a member of the Survivor Advisory Council for The Onsite Foundation. He hopes the retreat will help others.

“When the horrible tragedy happened July 20, 2012 and the events that followed, it was difficult to find resources. There was no one except the other survivors that understood the feelings I was going through. You have a lot of questions when you are in a mass shooting. Why did this happen to me? Is it going to get better? Will the racing thoughts and sleepless nights go away? Triumph Over Tragedy is a program where you can be surrounded by your peers and get some of those questions answered. The Onsite Foundation is going to help and impact so many lives and I am elated to be part of this organization,” Weaver said.

For more information visit The Onsite Foundation's website.

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